One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.-Benjamin Disraeli
Making the most of an opportunity is a lesson you learn in life. When you are a minor leaguer or a player that is not highly favored with management, it is a lesson that you learn quickly. It is what keeps you working hard to keep a job you are not guaranteed.
For a few players on the New York Mets, its what keeps you hungry. There is never a com for zone for you. Once you get the job you want, you better believe you have to work three times as hard as the guaranteed starting players.
This is the life for players like Juan Lagares. It is the story for Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Let us not forget Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. These are the players who are not guaranteed starters. They go game-to-game wondering if they will be starting the next day. Each player has tried to make the best of their chances.
Lagares, filling in for disabled list victim OF Chris Young, had a .314 BA and seven RBIs before he went on the disabled list himself. He had the fans behind him since last year. If you were curious as to why, now you know. He has been the offensive force behind what looked to be an anemic offense team. There is no need to speak about his defense. This outfielder has shown he is the full package.
Nieuwenhuis is back up with the team for the first time this year. In two games, he has a .333 BA with one home run and four RBIs. I’m not saying these numbers will last his entire time here. In 47 games last season, Nieuwenhuis had a .189 BA and only 14 RBIs. What he is showing right now is he is making the best of his time here thus far. There is no need to remind him it is only temporary. He knows it. So he will work hard for however long he is with the team. Let’s hope it continues.
In the fight for first base, Duda seems to have the upper hand on Davis with a .275 BA and three home runs in 14 games. His competition is batting a low .208 BA, eight RBIs and and one home run. Difference in amount of games played is only two. Guess who is the favorite to continue to get the playing time. It would be the hotter bat. Nobody can argue it. You always go with the hotter bat.
It is all about the opportunities given and taken. If Davis wants more playing time, he will have to earn it. Collins will not be putting Duda in the outfield despite any injuries to outfielders. He has finally grasped the concept of maintaining consistency to keep a player going at their best.
The same goes for pitching. Jenrry Mejia beat out Daisuke Matsuzaka for the fifth spot in the rotation in spring training. He took advantage of the chance he was given to earn the spot. He was not going to let this opportunity pass him by. He finally made it. The reward is two wins and a 2.81 ERA, which I feel he can get lower.
Matsuzaka worked hard while in Triple-A, a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings, earning him a long man spot in the bullpen when management decided to outright John Lannan. With the rotation in question thanks to a blister on Mejia’s finger and Bartolo Colon’s back barking, there is a possibility Matsuzaka could slide into the rotation for a start or two.
Here is what he had to say about being promoted and his new role with the team:
“Coming out of the bullpen is definitely something new to me, but I understand what’s expected. I’ll just have to do the best I can and pick things up as I go along.”
These players are the difference makers because they are not guaranteed anything. Each day could be their last one out there for however long. They are playing for a chance to stay right where they are. Every time a player goes down, a new opportunity arises.